AHA lauds growth in patient access to electronic records

Measures of online communication and data sharing have doubled, or more, since 2013.

Prodded by requirements in the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, hospitals are increasingly making it easier for patients to access their medical records, according to data collected by the American Hospital Association.

Last year, 92 percent of hospitals could let patients view their records online, more than double the percentage that were able to do so in 2013, when only 43 percent of hospitals could deliver that information to patients, the industry’s trade organization for hospitals said in a report released last week.

Other results quantifying the increasing ability of hospitals to communicate with patients are just as striking, the AHA report said.

For example, the capability of patients to download information from their electronic record has grown from 30 percent in 2013 to 84 percent in 2015. Consumers who want to request a change in their records are able to request changes electronically at 78 percent of hospitals in 2015, compared with only 35 percent of hospitals in 2013.

And the ability of hospitals to send referral summaries to a third party has increased to 70 percent in 2015, compared with only 13 percent in 2013.

“In the past, performing these tasks typically involved a formal request to the hospital’s medical records department, which could provide a paper copy of the patient’s record,” the report states. “With the adoption of EHRs, medical records are now stored in electronic format.”

Survey results documented other improvements in patients’ ability to communicate electronically:

* Conducting online commerce and communicating with hospitals, including paying bills, rose to 74 percent of hospitals in 2015, vs. 56 percent in 2013.

* Scheduling appointments, at 45 percent of hospitals in 2015, compared with 31 percent in 2013.

* Refilling prescriptions, at 44 percent of hospitals in 2015, vs. 30 percent in 2013.

* Submitting patient generated data, at 37 percent of providers in 2015, compared with 14 percent in 2013.

However, other industry data has suggested that consumer use of these capabilities has lagged, and that patients don’t make full use of capabilities that would engage them with providers, obtain electronic data and integrate their information with providers’ electronic records.

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